‘Meet The Press’ is taking heat for a video the program aired about gun violence.
In the wake of the Charleston church shooting, host Chuck Todd introduced a video on Sunday morning featuring testimonies of convicted murderers, calling the issue “color-blind.” Inmates at New York’s Sing Sing Correctional Facility opened up about the regret they had after using guns. However, only black prisoners were shown.
The homogeneous racial makeup of the video struck some viewers as inappropriate, especially given the apparently racially-motivated killings by a white man this week of 9 black victims at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
‘Meet The Press’ panelist and Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson pointed out the apparent disconnect.
“I thought that was a very powerful piece,” he said. “One small thing I would mention, because I haven’t seen the whole piece, is there wasn’t a terribly diverse set of people who were talking. Right now, we’re talking about a horrific crime committed by a white man. We’re talking about the search for two escaped murderers who are white men. So, we should point out that this is not just an African-American problem.”
Todd responded that “it wasn’t intended to be that way.”
Users on social media also expressed frustration with the perceived tone-deafness of the video:
— Montel Williams (@Montel_Williams) June 21, 2015
Folks should find out who produced the racist segment w. Chuck Todd on meet the Press and demand they resign or be fired.
— chauncey devega (@chaunceydevega) June 21, 2015
WTF? NBC’s Chuck Todd airs ‘color-blind’ segment with all-black shooters to address Charleston massacre http://t.co/ecDoSNEFol
— Martha Biondi (@MarthaBiondi) June 21, 2015
Later in the show, a ‘Meet The Press’ panel addressed the pushback to the video, with Todd remarking that the topic of gun violence “wasn’t meant to be a black and white issue.” Todd also spoke out in a post on the show’s website. He said:
We’ve gotten a lot of feedback about the gun video we showed on Meet the Press today. Some were upset it only featured African-American men talking about their regrets of pulling a trigger. All of the men in the piece volunteered to be a part of the video and the larger project it is a part of.
But the last thing we wanted was to cloud the discussion of the topic.
The original decision to air this segment was made before Wednesday’s massacre. However, the staff and I had an internal debate about whether to show it at all this week. When we discussed putting it off, that conversation centered around race and perception – not the conversation we wanted the segment to invoke.
We decided against delaying the segment because we wanted to show multiple sides of what gun violence does in this country. We thought the issue of gun violence in our culture and society was an important conversation to continue — too important to put off for another week. The consequences of gun violence should not be hidden.
As I say to all audiences, Meet the Press should make all viewers uncomfortable at some point or we are not doing our job. I hope folks view the gun video as a part of the conversation we should all be having and not the totality of it.
The gun violence video aired by ‘Meet The Press’ can be seen at the top of this entry (via RawStory).
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A who’s who of Hollywood, music and politics gathered last night at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles to celebrate the life of Michael King, the much-beloved syndication king behind wildly successful shows like Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Roseanne and Dr. Phil. King passed away suddenly March 27 at age 67 from complications of pneumonia.
Former President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Norman Lear, Elton John, Whoopi Goldberg and Sugar Ray Leonard, among others, remembered King as an “intellectual” but “street-smart” businessman, a generous philanthropist and exceptionally kind and devoted friend, brother, husband, father and uncle. Kenny G, Michael Bolton and David Foster performed at the invitation-only event, held by King’s wife, Jena and children Ali, Audrey, Teddy and Jesse.
As Clinton remarked later in the program, referencing a poem by William Wordsworth, King’s “last best hope of his great good life were the unforgettable acts of kindness, love and laughter. We are all here because we basked in his embrace.”
White floral arrangements and candles in tall glass votives set a peaceful scene as bagpipes welcomed 400-plus guests, including Bobby Kennedy Jr., Sylvester Stallone and Jennifer Flavin, Don Henley and Joe Walsh from The Eagles, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, producer Lawrence Bender and acrots Tommy Chong, Paul Reiser and Lorraine Bracco.
A bagpipe rendition of “Amazing Grace” marked the start of the service, after which Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson from St. Monica’s Church in Santa Monica, California led those gathered in prayer.
King’s children then came on stage, the oldest three giving emotional, at times tearful, speeches about their love for their dad — and his love for them. Eldest daughter and singer Ali said King was “the funniest person I know.” Son Teddy, a student at the University of Southern California, called his father his “best friend.” Teenage daughter Audrey welcomed guests and spoke on behalf of her mother, who was seated in the audience, then read two searing poems she wrote herself, leaving many attendees in tears.
In one, titled “Poem For My Mom,” she wrote:
A love so intangible, is that much
That much more passionate.
When you feel the cold wind
Just know it is him kissing your neck,
Teasing your senses,
He loves you.
Teddy introduced the former president with an anecdote of a trip he took with his dad and Clinton to South Africa, where the trio had gone to do charity work and visit Nelson Mandela. A known jokester, King impersonated Clinton, who had fallen asleep in the jeep. The account elicited laughs from the audience.
“Teddy, thanks for that wonderful story, I would far rather be impersonated by your father than anyone I can think of,” Clinton began, to laughter. “I will say this: We have this vast King clan here, and we had the bagpipers playing, and I thought, ‘It is so Michael King, ending with a flourish, an invasion of the Skirball Center by the Irish Catholics.’”
Clinton continued on a serious note, referencing the Charleston shooting on June 18.
“Everywhere in the world is bedeviled by people who are the opposite of Michael King. People who think all that matters is our differences,” Clinton said. “We have more refugees than any time since World War II. It was a terrible, terrible thing that happened in South Carolina yesterday. Michael King is the polar opposite of all that.”
Robert, King’s brother and partner in King World Productions, followed the former president’s remarks, saying his younger brother “would not want us to mourn his death; he’d want us to celebrate.” Older brother Richie offered a few, heartbroken words about the loss of a national treasure, his business partner and his best friend of 67 years. “That’s all I can say,” he said, choking back tears.
Kenny G performed, dedicating his song, “Innocence,” to the family. And tributes, tears and laughter continued.
Collaborator and producer Jeff Wald joked, “I was worried about going on after President Clinton — then I realized I couldn’t do worse than George Bush.”
Producer Norman Lear panned, “There are people all over this town who would die to put a crowd like this together.” Confessing that he had thought King was Jewish throughout their 30-year friendship until just before the memorial service, Lear said, “Jewish. Irish. It doesn’t matter. Michael was the definition of the word ‘mensch.’”
The speeches were interspersed by video tributes from those unable to attend, including Elton John, Whoopi Goldberg and Sugar Ray Leonard. In hers, Oprah Winfrey offered her condolences and shared photos and memories of King. “Here was a man who really knew how to live. He didn’t just live big — he lived huge,” she said.
Major philanthropists to many causes, King and his wife donated to friend, lawyer and speaker Robert Shapiro’s foundation to combat drug addiction, and to Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen’s Oceana foundation, the largest ocean-conservation charity in the world.
“I really felt Michael got to experience the joy of what it means to be human,” Danson said. “He got to love and be loved.”
The event concluded with musical performances by Michael Bolton and producer David Foster, who sent the crowd off on a buoyant note: “Let’s do this right. Everybody get up, scream, shout, and stomp your feet so wherever he is, he can hear us right now.”
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The world was not waiting for The Wall Street Journal to weigh in on the Charleston, South Carolina, massacre. Yet in a steaming hot pile of take posted online Thursday evening, the newspaper’s editorial board took a hard look at the killing of nine people at a historically black church and concluded that “what causes young men such as Dylann Roof to erupt in homicidal rage, whatever their motivation, is a problem that defies explanation.”
In truth, evidence had been emerging all day of the racial hatred that drove the shooter.
Still, the editorial began by lamenting that race had even entered the discussion. For people who see such a motive, the board wrote, “It does not matter that the alleged killer, Dylann Roof, brings to mind the mentally troubled young men who committed horrific mass murders of innocents inside buildings in Newtown, Conn.; Aurora, Colo.; or Virginia Tech.”
And why, the paper wondered, are people so focused on this one crime, “when individuals are murdered every day in less noted acts of hatred or rage that leave survivors bereft beyond understanding”?
After noting the parallels between the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, the editorial said that the nation has made great strides in discouraging this sort of racial violence over the past half-century.
Back then and before, the institutions of government — police, courts, organized segregation — often worked to protect perpetrators of racially motivated violence, rather than their victims.
The universal condemnation of the murders at the Emanuel AME Church and Dylann Roof’s quick capture by the combined efforts of local, state and federal police is a world away from what President Obama recalled as “a dark part of our history.” Today the system and philosophy of institutionalized racism identified by Dr. King no longer exists.
The editorial board isn’t completely wrong: Americans of all races were clearly horrified by the massacre on Wednesday night. And it’s no small feat that police caught the accused murderer the day after he committed the crime. It took nearly 15 years to begin bringing the 16th Street Baptist Church bombers to justice and nearly four decades for the last two perpetrators to be convicted.
But does the fact that America has made some significant progress over the past 50 years really mean we’ve eliminated institutionalized racism? Even a cursory glance at the way our nation handles criminal justice, access to housing and education — just to mention a few areas — would suggest we have a seriously entrenched problem.
Only in a nation still blind to the ongoing legacy of our original sin could the bar for ending institutionalized inequality be set so low. And ironically, that one of the nation’s leading media outlets chose to set the bar there, rather than confront the painful reality, is itself proof of the persistence of racism.
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So that happened. On this week’s podcast, we talk to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) about how he would get things done as president, discover the joys of hearing Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) deliver a magic trick, chat with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) about the fast-track trade bill’s life after death and finally, we get the details on a bill that would prevent U.S. ground troops from being used in the fight against the Islamic State group.
Listen to this week’s “So, That Happened” podcast below:
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Some highlights from this week:
“The Republicans get away with murder because nobody knows what they do. Nobody knows. Nobody knows that they want to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top two-tenths of 1 percent.” – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on the GOP’s intentions for fixing income inequality
“You want me to come clean, and I think that everybody has to ‘fess up at some time. So I will admit that we intended to… give subsidies to every state.” – Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) on whether Democrats intended for the semantic confusion that led to the Supreme Court’s case over the Affordable Care Act’s tax subsidies
“If you can’t pass a lot of legislation, you have to do something. So I try to keep this on the side.” – Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) on his card trick tradition of “Magic Mondays”
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This podcast was produced and edited by Ibrahim Balkhy and engineered by Brad Shannon, with assistance from Christine Conetta and Adriana Usero.
Have a story you’d like to hear discussed on “So, That Happened”? Email us at your convenience!
Each morning at PBS, the entire staff of “NewsHour” gathers in a conference room for the daily morning meeting. The network is structured very much like a newspaper, divided into beats with beat leaders. Everyone from interns to senior executives fill the chairs around the conference table. Producers and staff writers, along with “NewsHour” co-hosts Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill, are all present. “NewsHour” Executive Producer Sara Just then opens the table for discussion: Each beat shares its ideas for upcoming segments, but everyone is encouraged to suggest story topics.
The meeting has one main priority.
Find diverse voices, particularly women.
When it comes to featuring a balance of men and women, PBS is undoubtedly leading the pack. When Woodruff and Ifill were named co-hosts in 2013, they became the first female co-anchor team at a network broadcast. According to the latest study by the Women’s Media Center, PBS has a woman in the anchor chair 97 percent of the time. “NewsHour” is still the only news program featuring two women anchors. In terms of field reporters and correspondents, 55.9 percent of contributors at the network are male and 44.1 percent are female.
But “NewsHour” is the exception. Most networks are not striking this balance — not even close.
In 2014, 62.1 percent of news was produced by a man, the WMC study found. Only 37 percent of print news stories were reported by a woman last year. A woman was in the anchor chair just 17.1 percent of the time at ABC “World News,” 15 percent of the time at NBC’s “Nightly News” and a mere 9.5 percent of the time at CBS’ “Evening News.” The Sunday morning news shows featured male guests 74 percent of the time.
Of all the networks examined by WMC, women anchored the evening news only 32 percent of the time.
“Overall, our findings demonstrate that media on all platforms are failing women,” WMC President Julie Burton told The Huffington Post.
The underrepresentation of women is a problem that has long existed in media — in print, television, radio and online. But PBS has managed to find effective solutions by making gender equality a priority.
“It’s on everybody’s mind,” said Just, the executive producer.
“It is a conscious decision every single day,” Woodruff told HuffPost matter-of-factly. “We literally cast our reporters and producers to go out and actively look for people and make a triple effort to make sure they are finding people who are diverse in gender, race and age.”
Other top leaders at the network are also women: Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS; Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA, the station that produces “Newshour”; Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; Beth Hoppe, PBS chief programming executive; and Marie Nelson, PBS vice president of news and public affairs.
— Margaret Myers (@margaretvm) July 31, 2014
“PBS has done a remarkable job of finding great women, promoting great women and making sure that women are not just on the air but also behind the scenes, making decisions,” Woodruff said.
For PBS, it all comes down to simply setting a goal and working hard every day to meet that goal.
“It’s a matter of being deliberate about it and saying, ‘This matters, this is a priority,’” Woodruff said. “If you don’t do that, it’s so easy to slip back into the trap and just say, ‘Well, we used so-and-so last time we did this topic, so let’s use them again.’”
“Frankly, there’s no excuse for that,” she said.
Co-host Ifill knows firsthand what it’s like to work in a media world run by men. The veteran journalist has held positions at a number of other news organizations, most of which she says were heavily male. That’s not to say, however, that women weren’t behind the scenes, driving the machine.
“I spent the bulk of my career at newspapers where no newsrooms were run by women,” Ifill told HuffPost. “At The New York Times, it was a long time before a woman even made it onto the masthead. But, as in many organizations, it was often women who were keeping the wheels oiled and running.”
PBS isn’t perfect, Just said. She confessed to looking up at times and seeing a panel of all white men on the set. Sometimes, she conceded, the best, most knowledgable people to talk about a certain topic on air happen to be older white men.
“Our number one goal is to do the best journalism possible,” she said. “But if we do end up with an all white, male panel, then we make it a priority to make sure that the next panel on the next show is more diverse.”
The ratings show that viewers are responding. The broadcast numbers for “NewsHour” were up 6.7 percent in May 2015 from May 2014, according to Nielsen overnight ratings from TRAC Media. Online, the program was up 15 percent in page views and 36 percent in users in May 2015 compared to May 2014, according to Google Analytics. The show’s video views have soared — up 115 percent in May 2015 from the month and year before. PBS is also the No. 1 most trusted of all nationally known institutions, and has been for 12 years in a row, according to a national survey.
“We truly want to reflect America,” Woodruff said. “We don’t think it makes sense to have a news program that looks like an island. This is a diverse country. If we don’t reflect that then we’re not credible.”
While women may be a minority in journalism, as consumers of news, women are the majority. Women make up 54 percent of the top consumers of media across radio, television, Internet and print, according to Nielsen data. PBS realizes this, and says its just another reason they value women anchors at the network.
If media companies are smart, Burton said, they’ll respond to this reality and change their tactics as well. But media gender equality won’t be achieved without a fight.
“In the same way that women were never ‘given’ the vote … we know that if we do not advocate for an equal role for women in media, that role will not be freely ‘given.’”
Burton said “pressure” needs to be placed on every network to transform the system.
One initial step that every network can take, she said, is to perform an internal audit to ensure that each news program has an equal number of women in both on-air and off-air positions. She said networks should also take a close look at their hiring and retention rates, and set goals to ensure that people they put on the screen are not always white men.
“No news program should ever be able to say they can’t find enough women to put on air,” she said. “Media companies should be willing to take stock of their output and ask themselves how they can operate differently — and be willing to hold other media accountable for gender imbalances.”
But for Ifill, it’s not just about who’s sharing the news. It’s also about changing lives.
“I remember the first time I saw a black woman sitting behind a news anchor’s desk,” she said. “This was in the 1960s, her name was Melba Tolliver and I recall she wore an Afro. I was blown away. With more women in front of the camera, we can do that for more little girls.”
NEW YORK — A Bloomberg News reporter on Tuesday sent a memo to high-ranking company executives in New York that outlined numerous concerns among Washington bureau staffers about management, editorial standards, reporting priorities and more.
The memo, written by a reporter in the Washington bureau and said to be the product of conversations with colleagues, was obtained by The Huffington Post from a source with the sender’s name removed. It described “low morale,” “high employee turnover,” a “leadership void” and an atmosphere that’s less hospitable to female employees. Recent layoffs and demotions in the bureau, it noted, have helped foster a “climate of fear and mistrust.”
It is the latest evidence of a news operation plagued by infighting and still grappling with how to grow a flashy political presence on the Web after years of focusing on business and financial news through its highly profitable terminals.
Bloomberg management has been aware of escalating tensions between its New York headquarters and its Washington outpost. Many in the company feel that Bloomberg’s operation in DC has been marginalized by last year’s launch of Bloomberg Politics, led by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann and based in New York. In addition, some Bloomberg News journalists who have long written for the company’s subscription-based terminals feel left behind as management in New York seems increasingly focused on its new consumer-focused web operations like Bloomberg Politics and Bloomberg Business.
In April, Bloomberg Editor-In-Chief John Micklethwait assigned Chief Content Officer Josh Tyrangiel and Senior Executive Editor Marty Schenker to deal with the issues between New York and Washington. “I have yet to meet anyone in this organization who thinks we have come close to our potential,” Micklethwait wrote to staff at the time. “We will now fix this — and I expect you all to help.”
Both Schenker and Tyrangiel have been traveling to the Washington bureau for meetings with staff. They were most recently there on Monday to launch a new campaign finance reporting team.
Yet numerous concerns remain, as outlined in the memo. A Bloomberg News spokesman declined to comment.
The memo, which was sent Tuesday to Schenker and Tyrangiel with Washington staffers copied, addresses cultural and structural concerns and proposes several solutions.
Washington staffers perceive a “lack of clear direction from New York,” the memo says, noting a desire for a leader who has the confidence of top management. Bloomberg management is said to be currently seeking a Washington-based executive to oversee the bureau, according to sources familiar with the discussions.
The memo also suggests that female staffers in Washington are passed over for stories they would have expertise in and describes a sense that male managers look out for other male employees.
Bloomberg has faced questions before about female representation in positions of leadership. When selecting a new top editor in December, chief executive and company founder Michael Bloomberg hired Micklethwait from The Economist instead of promoting in-house front-runner Laurie Hayes. She has since left the company. Still, several large Bloomberg bureaus worldwide — London, Paris, Moscow, Toronto, Sao Paulo and Frankfurt — are run by women, and the company recently hired Kathy Kiely as Washington News Director for Bloomberg Politics, a new position designed in part to serve as liaison between New York and Washington.
There’s confusion, the memo says, over what stories are desired given the “dueling newsrooms” focused on the terminal and the Web. The memo suggested that terminal writers are more than willing to write for the Web and proposed that Web editors utilize those reporters’ talents before hiring from the outside.
The memo also addresses editorial standards in reporting. The launch of Bloomberg Politics, helmed by Halperin and Heilemann — two prominent journalists best known for writing election books filled with anonymous sources — sparked internal questions about standards. Traditionally, Bloomberg reporters are not permitted to use blind quotes from unnamed sources in articles and can only reference anonymous sources if they first get clearance from senior editors.
Heilemann received some pushback from management in October after publishing his first piece for Bloomberg Politics, which included anonymous quotes along with expletives that don’t usually appear in Bloomberg copy. He wasn’t prohibited from writing, but didn’t publish another piece for nearly six months.
The memo described “resentment” among Washington journalists due to a perception that employees working for Bloomberg Politics and Halperin and Heilemann’s show, “With All Due Respect,” are less constricted by the long-standing editorial guidelines.
“No one liked our old writing restrictions, or even believed many of them made sense,” the memo reads. “But many feel the pendulum has swung a little too far with the web site and the new political show.”
The memo recommends that reporters not be compelled to write the names of confidential sources in emails to senior editors seeking clearance to use the sources’ information, and suggests giving “more latitude” in this area to more experienced reporters. The implication is that Bloomberg reporters are always required to put the names of anonymous sources in emails, a practice that the memo notes could dissuade future sources from coming forward. However, sources told HuffPost there’s no single standard requiring Bloomberg reporters to identify sources in emails.
In addition, the memo proposes that standards be made consistent, that corrections be treated similarly on terminals and on the Web and that inaccurate stories not simply be deleted. (Bloomberg Politics deleted a story about Nancy Reagan in April that turned out to be a hoax.)
Duplicative coverage — multiple teams covering similar ground for the terminals and Web — is addressed as well. The memo also raises concerns that reporters are not given enough autonomy, resulting in lost scoops.
“Trust your reporters,” the memo says. “This is why you hired them.”
CBS News correspondent Clarissa Ward has woken up each morning since Friday in Yemen. She is one of the first foreign reporters to gain access to the country since the Saudi Arabian-led bombing campaign began in March. She spends her days traveling from the city center to hospitals to bomb sites, talking with everyone from local Yemenis to top authorities. Just this week, she landed a rare and important interview with one of Yemen’s new leaders, Mohammed Ali al Houthi, as he explained why Yemenis blame the United States for their country’s current woes.
She is the only American broadcast network correspondent inside Yemen right now, which has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
Ward is also part of another special group: the women who lead CBS News’ war coverage.
“The days of the boys’ club are long gone,” Ward told The Huffington Post. “From Syria to here in Yemen, female journalists are doing some of the most important and most impressive work in conflict zones.”
For Ward, being a woman has actually turned out to be advantageous to her reporting rather than holding her back, as many might assume.
“We can go to places where our male counterparts can’t, talk to 50 percent of the population they often don’t have access to and sail through checkpoints unnoticed,” she told HuffPost. “I don’t even think of gender as really being an issue in this profession anymore.”
Holly Williams, Ward’s colleague, is another one of CBS News’ leading foreign correspondents. She recently traveled to Libya to report from Misrata, just outside of the Islamic State strongholds of Sirte and Derna. Williams also was the first network correspondent to report on the emergence of the extremist group from Iraq, the network said. She has worked alongside local militias, gotten inside a Kurdish prison and come across Islamic State terrorists. She has also reported from Saudi Arabia, and gave an inside look at the country’s women challenging its heavily conservative culture.
Holly Williams in Syria.
CBS News foreign correspondent Elizabeth Palmer has reported extensively from Iran, where she was covering the trial of detained Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. Access to the country is extremely rare, but Palmer is a veteran at reporting in dangerous conflict zones. She was one of the few war reporters to repeatedly go to Syria, and has also covered the MH17 crash, conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks in Paris.
Elizabeth Palmer in Tehran.
The majority of the producers at CBS News covering conflict zones are also women, Ward said, including Erin Lyall, Agnes Reau and Justine Redman.
“I think CBS is unique in that it values international news and good storytelling,” she added. “The fact that so many of us are women I’m guessing is really just a fortuitous coincidence.”
Coincidence or not, it’s a notable victory in a media industry so heavily dominated by men. In 2014, 62.1 percent of news was produced by a man, according to the latest report by Women’s Media Center.
Ward is one of the lucky ones and has not experienced the sexism, harassment or abuse that so many female foreign correspondents report.
“I’m pretty good at pushing back and standing my ground if I feel that someone is trying to intimidate me,” she told HuffPost. “Stereotypes are difficult to get away from … the trick is to laugh it off and get on with doing great work.”
But Ward really doesn’t think of it like a male vs. female thing. She says it’s all about solid, quality international reporting, and her colleagues are “some of the best in the business.”
Most of the obituaries marking John Carroll’s death rightfully praise his legendary reputation as a veteran newspaper editor, his ability to rally a dispirited staff, his tireless push for journalistic integrity and his uncanny, almost magical, ability to mold stories into Pulitzer Prize winners — of which there were many.
What’s less talked about are the journalistic characteristics and personal beliefs that formed the basis of his philosophy. Call them Carroll’s rules of the road — rules that are challenged mightily by an Internet-driven society that provides every voice, no matter how dissonant or anonymous, with a megaphone.
In some ways, Carroll’s passing may represent the further erosion of standards that have guided great journalists in the post-Watergate era. As journalists move steadily away from Carroll’s rules on a daily basis, it’s important to remember — even in this new landscape — some of the core values of what he practiced.
While this is by no means a complete list of Carroll’s guiding principles, they underline what he valued most:
Wash out bias. Not long after becoming editor of the Los Angeles Times, Carroll issued an open letter to the staff in which he berated the “liberal bias” that one writer showed toward anti-abortion advocates in a story. Carroll vowed to wash that kind of mindset out of the newsroom. Today, many journalists are pressed to opine, rather than report, and emphasize their personal views as a way of gaining an audience.
Elevate language. Carroll, who was known to tell salty jokes, would rarely, if ever, put up with vulgarities or street language in news reports or expletives in headlines, saying it was the duty of newspapers to elevate the discussion and educate their readers. Today, the language of “the common man” and much worse can be found on many news sites, often in part as an attention-getting device, an effort at comic relief, or simply as a means to seem mischievous or bold.
Avoid the circus barker approach. He also felt that a newspaper should let its stories speak for themselves; and that it should not undermine its credibility by excessively touting its own work and those who do it. Today, many journalists are strongly encouraged to use Twitter, Facebook and whatever other means are available for self-laudatory comment — even when the merit is dubious or undeserved. Carroll was by no means against using social media, but he would always prefer that his editors and reporters focus their energies on promoting the substance or impact of their pieces rather than themselves.
Be thorough even if it takes time and money. Carroll’s key to publishing Pulitzer-worthy pieces was simple: Never run a major story before every effort has been made to check its facts and hone the writing into a compelling narrative, regardless of how many drafts it requires. The rule today is more often to get it out first, even if basic facts need to be revised or corrected afterward — something obviously far easier to accomplish and encourage on a website than in a print product. That the immediacy of the web doesn’t always provide a clear reward for such careful editing can have damaging effects on a publication’s long-term credibility.
Be courageous, even if it means challenging the business model. Today, journalists are encouraged to understand the business model of news sites and work with the business side of the operation to help assure financial success. One of the most controversial stories undertaken by the Los Angeles Times under Carroll’s direct supervision accused Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the eve of his election as California governor, of being a serial groper of women. Carroll ordered the story published even though he knew it would anger many readers who supported the popular movie star. Schwarzenegger later admitted that, at times, he had behaved badly toward women. But the paper still lost thousands of subscribers in the aftermath and never gained them back.
These days, such rules might seem quaint, naïve, overly idealistic and bad for business, especially in the face of the changes and challenges that now beset the world of journalism. Carroll would never suggest that journalists ought to return to a newspaper mindset of print deadlines or eschew the advantages of the web. Rather, he would argue that we should strive to keep this philosophy — of courage, of impartiality, of independence, of integrity — front and center. And if we forget these principles, we risk falling into some echo chamber where hard-fought original journalism and grappling with difficult topics gets crowded out by what’s expedient, fun and quick — but not necessarily informative.
As Carroll used to say, doing the right thing is seldom the easy thing, but you do it anyway.
Leo Wolinsky and John Montorio were Managing Editors of the Los Angeles Times during John Carroll’s tenure there. Montorio also served as Executive Features Editor of The Huffington Post.
By Mark Green
They’re catnip for commentators — two dynasts announcing within two days. Except the differences far exceed the parallels — one’s a yellow-pad wonk related to a popular ex-POTUS who leads with 60 percent in Democratic polls. The other is a “Jar of Mayo” with 100 percent recognition yet only 10 percent in GOP polls. Lowry and Katrina debate why.
Here Comes Hillary Roosevelt: +s and -s? (The show is taped before both Hillary’s and Jeb’s public launches.) In a bit of counter-programming, the Host asks Rich about her strengths and Katrina about her weaknesses.
Rich thinks she’s “resilient, disciplined and has a better electoral map” than Jeb. He doesn’t disagree with the Host that she’s a “Yellow Pad Wonk” who’d be a serious policy president if she got there.
Katrina worries about “her trust plunge because of legitimate media coverage of the Clinton Global Initiative and her speaking fees… and questions about whether they play by same rules as everyone else.”
Is she, according to a much-discussed Haberman-Martin front page New York Times article, moving left and appealing to only blue-Obama states… much as Rove urged W to simply work his base? Consensus: both say yes.
Katrina emphasizes that the center has become more liberal since Bill won in ’92 and Hillary ran in ’08. “Now social and economic issues will unite her base.” Rich agrees that her positions taken in isolation may poll well but altogether “risk making her look like a left-wing ideologue. Obama was able to energize his voters in 2008 yet look like he was talking to both sides. I doubt that she can pull that off.” Perhaps… but, adds Katrina, she can add some younger, white, especially female voters to the “Obama Coalition”.
Rich wonders why so many of the ethics charges aren’t sticking to Clinton’, speculating that perhaps it’s because “there are so many of them” that voters can’t focus on any one or two. “The real issue,” he adds, “is the question of ‘who understands people like me.’ Here’s where Obama crushed Romney and a Democrat should be easily beating Republicans.” Katrina thinks that the gap on issues will help Democrats again connect on “people like me.” The Host wonders whether, on the tests of ethics and compassion, “the GOP can really Nixon-ize or Romeny-ize Hillary.” Nah — she’s no crook or CEO.
What should she do in her big speech? Given Citizens United, Katrina concludes, “she should attack secret money as not part of freedom of speech and, in the spirit of the Four Freedoms, should talk about the great vision of what America can be.”
Here comes Jeb Herbert Walker Bush: +s and -s? Katrina is asked about his strengths. She sneaks in an attack by congratulating him for “his Houdini-like ability to stretch the campaign finance law by delaying his announcement until he could raise unaccountable millions for his super-pacs” — but then lauds his willingness to go against GOP PC “on immigration and education.” She adds that he’d be smart to emphasize that he’s the son of Bush41 (The Quiet America in the title of John Sununu’s book) rather than the brother of Bush43 (or President Fredo to some Godfather devotees).
Rich is asked about his weaknesses since, based on the numbers, Hillary is at 50-60 percent in her multi-candidate field while Jeb is only at 10 percent in a more crowded one. He robustly criticizes Jeb as “a boardroom candidate who’s been all about fund-raising. So there’s a stark disparity between the passion of donors who are used to the Bushs and the lack of passion among GOP voters. I can’t recall meeting anyone who’s for him other than professional consultants.” He goes on: “He’s smart and people can see him walking into the Oval Office but he’s a terrible performer behind a podium and has zero policy specifics.”
Katrina chimes in that he’s reaping the whirlwind by retaining many of W’s advisors “who lied us into Iraq.” There’s a consensus that Jeb both mis-overestimates the asset of being a Bush and mis-understimates, as Laura Ingraham has said, the anger of the Republican base toward him.
POTUS vs. SCOTUS: Is Obama working refs or the voters? At the least, it’s unusual if not unprecedented for a President to publicly rebuke Supreme Court decisions. But now comes a law professor President who’s done just that after the Citizens United decision and this week in anticipation of the Court ruling on those “four confusing words” about subsidies to ACA exchanges.
Lowry isn’t particularly offended by Obama’s remarks and assumes he’s laying the groundwork for the inevitable blame-game should the Court deny subsidies to 6 million-plus in federal exchanges. Katrina thinks it’d be crazy for the court to do so. But if it did, we’d be back to the late 1930s when it came to FDR’s “court packing plan” (in my family it was called “court reform”) when a reactionary court threw out much of the New Deal until ‘a switch in time saved nine.’ “Obama’s just telling the truth that the Court is politicized.”
Host: when I ask for their predictions, they balk. So I dive in: “It’ll be 6-3 upholding the law” because Roberts and Kennedy don’t want millions of people blaming their party for loss of their insurance based on a ridiculous interpretation of law, not to mention how they can possibly explain that Congress intended only to subsidize those on state exchanges when ZERO Members say that was the case. Should that happen, it should be a federal crime for any Republican to ever again say they oppose “judicial activism.”
*RNC-FOX. Katrina thinks it funny that the RNC seems to be admittedly treating FOX as its communications arm by allowing it to determine debate rules that could affect who nominee is. Which does at least have the virtue of candor. Rich warns us that he’s a FOX contributor and admirer of Ailes — that said, he recommends all R contestant names be put in a bowl and then a draw determines lineups for two 90 minute debates. “There’s a big appetite among FOX viewers for even three hours of debates.”
*Lindsay Graham (“one wise crack at a time” says WaPo headline). Host wonders if, putting aside his policies for a moment, Lindsay Graham is one billionaire away from contention because he’s the anti-Jeb being single, poor, fluent and funny. Claiming his predictions never pan out, Rich modestly demurs. Katrina says she worries about the Host if he thinks Graham funny. (“Rotating first ladies”? “Not go down road again of tall, handsome GOP nominees”? Not Dole-Udall level still but pretty good.)
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Did “The Bachelorette” herself reveal the winner of her show after just five episodes?
Variety reports that on Friday night, Kaitlyn Bristowe posted a Snapchat story that showed her in bed with contestant Shawn Booth (the guy that people think looks like Ryan Gosling), leading many to believe that he’s not only the Season 11 winner, but that they are still together.
The photos were quickly deleted, but not before they were screencapped and spread around on Twitter.
Booth started out the season strong by winning the first impression rose, and assuming this isn’t some promotional stunt for the series, fans are no doubt wondering if they need to watch the remaining episodes.
Neither Bristowe nor Booth have spoken about the photos at this time, nor is it likely they will since they are contractually obligated not to discuss the outcome of the show. Reps for ABC told The Huffington Post they had no comment.